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Tags alternative medicine , dana ullman , homeopathy

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Old 9th July 2007, 10:01 AM   #761
krazyKemist
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This is boring.

Where's Ullman ? I want to discuss "epitaxy" and thermodynamics.

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Old 10th July 2007, 06:00 AM   #762
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It is sweet to know that I am missed...

I couldn't help but notice that Linda posted 3 links to replicated studies on the homeopathic treatment of influenza, and yet, no one here has the courage to acknowledge that these studies have confirmed the efficacy of a homeopathic medicine (Oscillococcinum) in the treatment of the flu. While I appreciated Linda's references, I couldn't help but notice that she provided NO positive words about the body of replicated studies (from 3 independent groups of researchers).

This is a common pattern here: You nitpick any (!) possible and even extremely minor problem with a clinical trial and make it seem that ANY minor problem is worthy enough to throw out the entire trial's information. Everyone here does all they can to NEVER acknowledge anything potentially positive about a trial testing homeopathy, unless it had a negative outcome.

Someone referred to Orac's critique of the CHEST study, and yet, this critique was so weak that it was surprising that CHEST chose to publish his "letter to the editor." However, because the authors replied to him (and blew his weak critique out of the water), I was pleased to see this in print. And yet, no one here acknowledged the incredible weakness of Orac's analysis.

You cannot have it both ways: you cannot be intellectually honest by applying your analysis to critique homeopathy unless you apply a similar level of analysis to the critique of the critique.

I just want some intellectual honesty...and sadly, I'm not getting it at this site.
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Old 10th July 2007, 06:08 AM   #763
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Oliver Wendell Holmes...Intellectually Dishonest

Speaking of intellectual dishonesty, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes won the prize for this in the 19th century. Although skeptics of homeopathy at that time and even today (!) consider Dr. Holmes' book to be one of the strongest critiques of homeopathy ever written, I will be curious what the seemingly smart and seemingly hyper-vigilent participants at this site will say about his knowledge of and criticisms about homeopathy.

It is more than a tad ironic that you "defenders of the scientific paradigm" maintain such an unscientific attitude towards homeopathy. This is not a homeopathic dose of chutzpah...it is a very crude dose of it...read for yourself...


Oliver Wendell Holmes and His Attack on Homeopathy

The most famous anti-homeopathy book written in the 19th century was by Oliver Wendell Holmes, MD (1809-1894). Called Homoeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions, this book was written just six years after Dr. Holmes graduated from medical school. Before Holmes went to medical school, he authored a famous poem in 1830 called Old Ironside as well as two articles in 1832 and 1833 entitled Autocrat at the Breakfast Table (published in The Atlantic Monthly), which gave him a national reputation as a leading American writer and scholar.

Although Holmes had become a professor at Harvard Medical School and although he was a respected poet and author, he actually had very little direct experience practicing medicine before he wrote this attack on homeopathy. Dr. Holmes’ essay on homeopathy gained a lot of attention, and this book today is commonly referred to as a “strong” critique of homeopathy. However, this book should actually be a significant embarrassment to its author and to those who are seriously antagonistic to homeopathy because it is so full of obvious errors of fact, which authors today still quote as though this book was factual.

It is amazing to note, first, that Dr. Holmes wrote that the one physician who typifies the good American medical thinking and practice of that time was Benjamin Rush, MD (1745-1813), a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the surgeon general of the Continental Army. Dr. Rush was one of the leading advocates of “heroic medicine,” that is, the frequent and aggressive use of including bloodletting, intestinal purging (with mercury), vomiting (with the caustic agent tartar emetic), and blistering of the skin.

Dr. Rush recommended bloodletting for virtually every patient, and he considered it quackery if a physician did not bloodlet his patients. He even once boasted that he had drawn enough blood to float a 74-gun man-of-war ship (Transactions, 1882).

Rush was also an advocate of forced psychiatric treatment, which in part explains why his portrait is on the emblem of the American Psychiatric Association. One of Rush's favorite methods of treatment was to tie a patient to a wooden board and rapidly spin it until significant amounts of blood flowed to the head. He placed his own son in one of his insane asylum hospitals for 27 years until he died. Rush also believed that being black was a hereditary illness which he referred to as “negroidism.”

In addition to Dr. Holmes’ glorification of Dr. Rush’s heroic medicine, Holmes had the audacity to say that homeopathic medicine is “barbaric” because it uses various snake venoms (p. x). This statement is more than a tad ironic when you consider that one of Dr. Holmes’ most famous quotes was his own critique of conventional medical drugs when he said, “I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica (materials of medicine), as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind,--and all the worse for the fishes” (Holmes, 1860).

Dr. Holmes’ primary attack was on the extremely small doses that are used in homeopathic medicine. However, Dr. Holmes had seemingly never read a single book on homeopathy or had any meaningful dialogue with a homeopath because he committed a classic error of calculation. When a homeopathic pharmacy makes a medicine, they take one part of the original substance and dilute it in nine or 99 parts water (considered a 1:10 or 1:100 dilution); the glass bottle is then vigorously shaken approximately 40 times, and then, the medicinal solution is again diluted 1:10 or 1:100. Ultimately, to make a homeopathic medicine to the 30X or 30C (“X” is a Roman numeral for 10, and “C” means 100; the letter next to the number refers to the type of dilution), the total amount of water needed is 30 test tubes of water (considerably less than a simple gallon of water).

However, Dr. Holmes got his calculations confused, and he incorrectly assumed that the homeopathic manufacturer had to have 10 times or 100 times more water than in the previous dilution. Dr. Holmes estimated that the 9th dilution would require ten billion gallons of water and the 17th dilution required a quantity equal to 10,000 Adriatic seas. Dr. Holmes could have easily corrected his error if he had simply gone into one homeopathic pharmacy or had a simple short conversation with a homeopath. Sadly and strangely, Dr. Holmes and other conventional doctors of that age prided themselves on never talking with a homeopath. What is even more ironic is that Dr. Holmes arranged for the reprinting of this article in various books from 1842 to 1891 without changing a single word, despite this and numerous other errors of fact in his work.

Dr. Holmes explained in his book that the growth of homeopathy was primarily because conventional physicians tended to over-medicate their patients, even though Holmes later wrote that the public itself “insists on being poisoned” (Holmes, 1860, 186).

Dr. Holmes also attempted to “prove” that homeopathic medicines do not work by quoting a “scientific study.” To do this, Holmes referenced a “study” by a Dr. Gabriel Andral, professor of medicine in the School of Paris. Holmes referred to Andral “a man of great kindness of character…of unquestioned integrity.” Holmes reported on Andral’s experiment on 130-140 patients using homeopathic medicines, and Holmes quoted Andral saying, “not one of them did it have the slightest influence” (Holmes, 1842, 80).

Although Dr. Holmes and others have asserted that Andral’s experiment provided strong evidence for disproving homeopathy, it must be noted that later in his life, Andral himself acknowledged the serious problems in his study. Although Andral claimed to have used Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura as his guide, he neglected to mention at the time that the book was in German and that he could not read German. One other book by Hahnemann was translated into French at the time of this study, but Andral did not prescribe any of the 22 homeopathic medicines in this book for any patients in his study. Even Andral’s assistant for this study acknowledged that Andral did not know how to select homeopathic medicines for patients and that he “excuses his ignorance by saying it was unavoidable” (Dean, 2004, 112).

Additional evidence of Andral’s complete ignorance of homeopathy was revealed in a review of each of his prescriptions and his use of dosages. He never prescribed any homeopathic medicines for any patient’s unique syndrome of symptoms. Instead, he selected a single symptom of his own idiosyncratic choosing and then guessed at the medicine for it. For instance, his prescriptions of Arnica for one woman with painful menstruation and for one man with tuberculosis were guesses that were not based on any homeopathic textbook. Further, 75% of the patients were given just one dose of one remedy without any follow-up remedy (Irvine, 1844). If patients were not immediately cured by this one dose, he considered homeopathy a failure and then referred the patient for conventional medical treatment.
Andral later asserted that he had never formally granted anyone permission to publish his report on homeopathy, and further, by 1852 he had changed his mind about homeopathy and asserted that it deserved the closest examination by every physician (Dean, 2004, 112). Despite these facts, Dr. Holmes never changed a word of his essay on homeopathy to avoid misinformation.

When you consider that this book by Dr. Holmes was considered the best critique of homeopathy written in the 19th century, one must rightfully acknowledge that serious or sophisticated criticism of homeopathy at this time was neither rational nor accurate.

In 1861, Dr. Holmes finally confessed that homeopathy “has taught us a lesson of the healing faculty of Nature which was needed, and for which many of us have made proper acknowledgements” (Holmes, 1891, x, xiii-xiv). However, he still never instructed his publisher to change a word of his previous writings on homeopathy.
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Old 10th July 2007, 06:11 AM   #764
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He's back! Yay! We can start playing again!

OK, first question. What the hell did that post have to do with anything? Seriously, no-one here has mentioned a book over 100 years old as proof of anything. I take it this means you have nothing to say about all the criticism actually presented in this thread? Kind of sad that the best you can do is attack something written by a dead guy over a century ago really.
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Old 10th July 2007, 06:32 AM   #765
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Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
He's back! Yay! We can start playing again!

OK, first question. What the hell did that post have to do with anything? Seriously, no-one here has mentioned a book over 100 years old as proof of anything. I take it this means you have nothing to say about all the criticism actually presented in this thread? Kind of sad that the best you can do is attack something written by a dead guy over a century ago really.

Is it a chapter from his upcoming book?
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Old 10th July 2007, 07:29 AM   #766
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Finally !

Welcome back !

This was going into an endless circle, really...

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Old 10th July 2007, 07:33 AM   #767
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Speaking of intellectual dishonesty...
...could you see your way to giving us enough information about your sources for us to consult them? Giving only the author's surname and year of publication isn't really enough.
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Old 10th July 2007, 07:43 AM   #768
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Oh. Did you have a nice trip (or whatever)?

I wonder if anybody has the energy to compile a list of outstanding questions in this thread.

Wasn't the Oscillococcinum study dealt with somewhere? But yes, we do tend to nitpick homeopathy studies and reject them on even fairly minute details (not that one usually needs to resort to minute details), and I explained the reason to Manioberoi, earlier: Since homeopathy requires the rewriting of substantial parts of contemporary physics, biology, pathology, immunology, pharmacology, and a few other disciplines, it constitutes an extraordinary claim. Thus, it requires extraordinary evidence. Evidence extraordinary enough to counter the massive evidence in favor of all the mentioned disciplines.

To use an analogy, the claim for homeopathy is like a claim that a band of dinosaurs live in Central Park, NY. It would take more than a footprint to convince anybody of that.

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Old 10th July 2007, 07:43 AM   #769
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Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
He's back! Yay! We can start playing again!

OK, first question. What the hell did that post have to do with anything? Seriously, no-one here has mentioned a book over 100 years old as proof of anything. I take it this means you have nothing to say about all the criticism actually presented in this thread? Kind of sad that the best you can do is attack something written by a dead guy over a century ago really.

My subject was "intellectual dishonesty," and Holmes had in the 19th century, and this list is full of it today.

But heck, prove me wrong. Show some honesty. Acknowledge results from high quality clinical and basic science research whether it has a positive or negative outcome for homeopathy. Acknowledge that many principles of homeopathy have real merit. Acknowledge the several thousand studies by non-homeopaths test hormesis and other extremely low dose phenemona (at doses that are EXTREMELY commonly sold in health food stores and pharmacies today). And stop the total BS about the "high price" of homeopathic medicines (the vast majority are under $10!) or the "huge profits" that the homeopathic drug companies make (the total sales--not just profit--of the individual companies are LESS than the advertising budget of a single popular conventional drug).

In other words, GET REAL (this may be tough for some of you).

And yes...the info on Dr. Holmes is a part of the forthcoming book, and the references will be provided there.
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Old 10th July 2007, 08:01 AM   #770
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Dr. Holmes’ primary attack was on the extremely small doses that are used in homeopathic medicine. However, Dr. Holmes had seemingly never read a single book on homeopathy or had any meaningful dialogue with a homeopath because he committed a classic error of calculation. When a homeopathic pharmacy makes a medicine, they take one part of the original substance and dilute it in nine or 99 parts water (considered a 1:10 or 1:100 dilution); the glass bottle is then vigorously shaken approximately 40 times, and then, the medicinal solution is again diluted 1:10 or 1:100. Ultimately, to make a homeopathic medicine to the 30X or 30C (“X” is a Roman numeral for 10, and “C” means 100; the letter next to the number refers to the type of dilution), the total amount of water needed is 30 test tubes of water (considerably less than a simple gallon of water).

However, Dr. Holmes got his calculations confused, and he incorrectly assumed that the homeopathic manufacturer had to have 10 times or 100 times more water than in the previous dilution. Dr. Holmes estimated that the 9th dilution would require ten billion gallons of water and the 17th dilution required a quantity equal to 10,000 Adriatic seas. Dr. Holmes could have easily corrected his error if he had simply gone into one homeopathic pharmacy or had a simple short conversation with a homeopath. Sadly and strangely, Dr. Holmes and other conventional doctors of that age prided themselves on never talking with a homeopath. What is even more ironic is that Dr. Holmes arranged for the reprinting of this article in various books from 1842 to 1891 without changing a single word, despite this and numerous other errors of fact in his work.
First, lets get this straight: nobody else has talked about Holmes. You're just trying to use him as a straw man. So there is no need for me or anyone else to defend all that Holmes wrote: for all I know he may have said all sorts of silly things.

But since you're trying to knock this straw man down, and you're putting him in your book, you should at least read what he really wrote. Holmes never actually assumed that the homeopathic manufacturer had to have 10 times or 100 times more water than in the previous dilution. He was fully aware of how homeopathic remedies were prepared, and the example using the comparison with 10,000 Adriatic seas was presented as an illustration, to help people grasp the idea of how little of the original substance was to be found in the remedy.

I quote Holmes (my bolding):

"So much ridicule has been thrown upon the pretended powers of the minute doses that I shall only touch upon this point for the purpose of conveying, by illustrations, some shadow of ideas far transcending the powers of the imagination to realize. It must be remembered that these comparisons are not matters susceptible of dispute, being founded on simple arithmetical computations, level to the capacity of any intelligent schoolboy. A person who once wrote a very small pamphlet made some show of objecting to calculations of this kind, on the ground that the highest dilutions could easily be made with a few ounces of alcohol. But he should have remembered that at every successive dilution he lays aside or throws away ninety-nine hundredths of the fluid on which he is operating, and that, although he begins with a drop, he only prepares a millionth, billionth, trillionth, and similar fractions of it, all of which, added together, would constitute but a vastly minute portion of the drop with which he began. But now let us suppose we take one single drop of the Tincture of Camomile, and that the whole of this were to be carried through the common series of dilutions.

A calculation nearly like the following was made by Dr. Panvini, and may be readily followed in its essential particulars by any one who chooses.

For the first dilution it would take 100 drops of alcohol.
For the second dilution it would take 10,000 drops, or about a pint.
For the third dilution it would take 100 pints.
For the fourth dilution it would take 10,000 pints, or more than 1,000 gallons, and so on to the ninth dilution, which would take ten billion gallons, which he computed would fill the basin of Lake Agnano, a body of water two miles in circumference. The twelfth dilution would of course fill a million such lakes. By the time the seventeenth degree of dilution should be reached, the alcohol required would equal in quantity the waters of ten thousand Adriatic seas. Trifling errors must be expected, but they are as likely to be on one side as the other, and any little matter like Lake Superior or the Caspian would be but a drop in the bucket."
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Old 10th July 2007, 08:12 AM   #771
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
My subject was "intellectual dishonesty," and Holmes had in the 19th century, and this list is full of it today.
Well, we know that homeopaths are fond of quoting 19th century writings, but you will excuse us if we prefer things a bit more recent.

Quote:
But heck, prove me wrong. Show some honesty. Acknowledge results from high quality clinical and basic science research whether it has a positive or negative outcome for homeopathy.
Sure. Where is it?

Quote:
Acknowledge that many principles of homeopathy have real merit.
Mention some.

Quote:
Acknowledge the several thousand studies by non-homeopaths test hormesis and other extremely low dose phenemona (at doses that are EXTREMELY commonly sold in health food stores and pharmacies today).
Explain how hormesis is relevant to homeopathy.

Quote:
And stop the total BS about the "high price" of homeopathic medicines (the vast majority are under $10!) or the "huge profits" that the homeopathic drug companies make (the total sales--not just profit--of the individual companies are LESS than the advertising budget of a single popular conventional drug).
10$ is a lot for a bottle of sugar tablets, in my opinion.

You comparison with conventional drugs is dishonest. You know quite well it doesn't make sense to compare two operations of vastly different size.

The profit margin for homeopathic drugs is high, because although the retail price is modest, the production cost is negligible, the quality and research costs non-existent.

Quote:
In other words, GET REAL (this may be tough for some of you).
I suggest you keep a civil tone. We can play rough if you want, but you won't like it.

Quote:
And yes...the info on Dr. Holmes is a part of the forthcoming book, and the references will be provided there.
Why should we care what Dr. Holmes wrote?

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Old 10th July 2007, 08:15 AM   #772
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Originally Posted by Michael C View Post
First, lets get this straight: nobody else has talked about Holmes. You're just trying to use him as a straw man. So there is no need for me or anyone else to defend all that Holmes wrote: for all I know he may have said all sorts of silly things.

Oh yeah...Holmes did say LOTS of extremely silly things, even if the physicians of his day thought he was totally rational and "absolutely" right. Just as this list is full of similarly silly statements made by people with little knowledge of homeopathy and NO experience with it.

Hahnemann's gravestone has the words: Aude sapere ...Latin for dare to be wise, to experience, to taste. He challenged skeptics to simply try or taste homeopathy...but heck, you'd rather be rational than be right.
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Old 10th July 2007, 08:20 AM   #773
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
And stop the total BS about the "high price" of homeopathic medicines (the vast majority are under $10!)...

How much is that per ounce of active component?
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Old 10th July 2007, 09:03 AM   #774
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
My subject was "intellectual dishonesty," and Holmes had in the 19th century, and this list is full of it today.
... full of it ... does that include your post then?

Don't you like having your subject analysed? Are you worried that it can't actually stand up to a bit of scrutiny?

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
But heck, prove me wrong.
I'd rather you proved yourself right ...

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Show some honesty. Acknowledge results from high quality clinical and basic science research whether it has a positive or negative outcome for homeopathy. Acknowledge that many principles of homeopathy have real merit.
I will happily acknowledge such results, if and when they are presented. Why will you not critically examine your positive results, why do you dismiss negative results? Are you being a hypocrite here?

Anyway, which principles of homoeopathy have real merit? Like cures like? Below Avogadro limit effects? There is absolutely no proof of the essential principles of homoeopathy. Data mining and poor experimentation is a great smoke screen to hide behind.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Acknowledge the several thousand studies by non-homeopaths test hormesis and other extremely low dose phenemona (at doses that are EXTREMELY commonly sold in health food stores and pharmacies today).
Low does - or no dose? Go look up your essential principles again.

Also, selling is no proof of efficacy. A scam is a scam. It does not matter if it is EXTREMELY commonly sold or not.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
And stop the total BS about the "high price" of homeopathic medicines (the vast majority are under $10!) or the "huge profits" that the homeopathic drug companies make (the total sales--not just profit--of the individual companies are LESS than the advertising budget of a single popular conventional drug).
A scam is a scam - pure and simple. There is no such thing as a fair price for a scam. As such - homoeopathy is always over-priced. This cost also includes the uncounted people who do not get proper treatment when necessary because they followed the wishful thinking of a homoeopath. That is an incredibily high price in my opinion.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
In other words, GET REAL (this may be tough for some of you).
Not constructive - but that's not why you are here ...

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
And yes...the info on Dr. Holmes is a part of the forthcoming book, and the references will be provided there.
So what is the problem with giving us a sneak preview of a few lines of references?
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Old 10th July 2007, 09:42 AM   #775
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
How much is that per ounce of active component?
You can do the calculation yourself: $10.00/0 = ...

Gee, it is tough; even with a calculator.
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Old 10th July 2007, 10:55 AM   #776
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Homeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions. Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1842

http://www.quackwatch.org/01Quackery...cs/holmes.html

A couple notes about literature:

1) Age does not mean something is wrong, or no longer useful. One must look to see if it has been rendered invalid by more recent work.

2) Any citation to poor-quality sources can be ignored. If it wasn't submitted to a high-quality medical journal, the author doesn't have any confidence in the work (or, it was unacceptable to a good journal). Any magazine with the name of some quack method (homeopathy, chiropractic, etc.) or with terms such as "alternative," "integrative," or "holistic" in the title is inferior (except- The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine). (Above, I criticized a quack article they claimed supported homeopathy. Most quack articles are like that one.)

So, that sweeps-away most, favorable homeopathic citations. We are left with the question of how to deal with articles in good journals. I dare say most of us cannot (I recognize that there are some qualified clinicians here), except to note that none has enough subjects to be considered definitive.

I am holding out for a large study in a good journal, one that survives the scrutiny of qualified experts (and is certain not to be fraudulent).
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Old 10th July 2007, 02:08 PM   #777
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Someone referred to Orac's critique of the CHEST study, and yet, this critique was so weak that it was surprising that CHEST chose to publish his "letter to the editor." However, because the authors replied to him (and blew his weak critique out of the water), I was pleased to see this in print.

References please. And links if it is availabe on the web, of course.

And an explanation of how the critique was "blown out of the water".

Nullius in verba.
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Old 10th July 2007, 02:50 PM   #778
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Someone referred to Orac's critique of the CHEST study, and yet, this critique was so weak that it was surprising that CHEST chose to publish his "letter to the editor." However, because the authors replied to him (and blew his weak critique out of the water [in your imagination, JJM]), I was pleased to see this in print. And yet, no one here acknowledged the incredible weakness of Orac's (et al's) analysis.
The "letter to the editor" was from David Colquhoun.

I suppose you will be rendering an analysis of the weakness of Orac's analyisis.

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Old 10th July 2007, 05:24 PM   #779
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
References please. And links if it is availabe on the web, of course.

And an explanation of how the critique was "blown out of the water".

Nullius in verba.
This is Orac's critique:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20...ringeicu_1.php

Mr, Ullman, where have the authors of the paper in question replied to Orac? Can you post that link please?
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Old 10th July 2007, 11:28 PM   #780
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
And stop the total BS about the "high price" of homeopathic medicines (the vast majority are under $10!) or the "huge profits" that the homeopathic drug companies make (the total sales--not just profit--of the individual companies are LESS than the advertising budget of a single popular conventional drug).
"Remedy Makers" sell for $395 each. Is that good value for money?

You could start by answering the following questions;

Originally Posted by Badly Shaved Monkey View Post
4. Can you tell us whether either of these machines works?

http://www.bio-resonance.com/elybra.htm

http://www.remedydevices.com/voice.htm

Bear in mind that the users of these machines rely on exactly the same anecdotal experience and fallacious post hoc reasoning that every other homeopath does. Are the homeopaths who use these machines right or wrong in thinking they work?

It's a very simple question and capable of a single-word answer.

I'll give you a new question just so you can show how well you understand the interpretation of clinical trial data;

9. I set a p-value for significance of 0.05 and run 100 trials. In no trial is the test substance distinguishable from the control. How many trials can I expect to show an apparent "effect" from my test substance?
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Old 10th July 2007, 11:40 PM   #781
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p.s. I forgot to mention that the e-Lybra machine costs £8200. Plus postage!
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Old 11th July 2007, 12:22 AM   #782
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Originally Posted by Badly Shaved Monkey View Post
p.s. I forgot to mention that the e-Lybra machine costs £8200. Plus postage!
What a bargain!!! They are practically giving it away!!!

(Well, we have to take into account their manufacturing costs, and all that R&D, and marketing, and they have to make a living (however meagre) out of it... )
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Old 11th July 2007, 01:11 AM   #783
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Oh yeah...Holmes did say LOTS of extremely silly things, even if the physicians of his day thought he was totally rational and "absolutely" right. Just as this list is full of similarly silly statements made by people with little knowledge of homeopathy and NO experience with it.
Instead of continuing to try to shoot down your "straw man", why not show some intellectual honesty yourself and reply to the point I made? For your convenience I'll put the reference of my post here. And I'll state the point again:

You assert that Holmes "incorrectly assumed that the homeopathic manufacturer had to have 10 times or 100 times more water than in the previous dilution". This is not true. Holmes was totally aware how homeopathic remedies were prepared, and his illustration using "ten thousand Adriatic seas" was clearly presented as such: an illustration, to give an idea to people who may not have realised how diluted the substances actually were.

Are you going to leave your erroneous statement in your book?
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Old 11th July 2007, 01:44 AM   #784
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Speaking of intellectual dishonesty, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes won the prize for this in the 19th century.

...snip...

In 1861, Dr. Holmes finally confessed that homeopathy “has taught us a lesson of the healing faculty of Nature which was needed, and for which many of us have made proper acknowledgements” (Holmes, 1891, x, xiii-xiv). However, he still never instructed his publisher to change a word of his previous writings on homeopathy.
Originally Posted by Michael C View Post
Instead of continuing to try to shoot down your "straw man", why not show some intellectual honesty yourself and reply to the point I made? For your convenience I'll put the reference of my post here. And I'll state the point again:

You assert that Holmes "incorrectly assumed that the homeopathic manufacturer had to have 10 times or 100 times more water than in the previous dilution". This is not true. Holmes was totally aware how homeopathic remedies were prepared, and his illustration using "ten thousand Adriatic seas" was clearly presented as such: an illustration, to give an idea to people who may not have realised how diluted the substances actually were.

Are you going to leave your erroneous statement in your book?

Well, he seems to think it's OK to claim that Darwin supported homoeopathy on the basis of Darwin's assertion that a hydropath may have improved his condition, and despite the fact that Darwin later wrote:
Quote:
You speak about Homœopathy; which is a subject which makes me more wrath, even than does Clair-voyance: clairvoyance so transcends belief, that one's ordinary faculties are put out of question, but in Homœopathy common sense & common observation come into play, & both these must go to the Dogs, if the infinetesimal doses have any effect whatever. How true is a remark I saw the other day by Quetelet, in respect to evidence of curative processes, viz that no one knows in disease what is the simple result of nothing being done, as a standard with which to compare Homœopathy & all other such things.

Apparently this sort of thing is only "intellectual dishonesty" when someone other than "JamesGully" does it.
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Old 11th July 2007, 02:08 AM   #785
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Oh yeah...Holmes did say LOTS of extremely silly things, even if the physicians of his day thought he was totally rational and "absolutely" right. Just as this list is full of similarly silly statements made by people with little knowledge of homeopathy and NO experience with it.

Hahnemann's gravestone has the words: Aude sapere ...Latin for dare to be wise, to experience, to taste. He challenged skeptics to simply try or taste homeopathy...but heck, you'd rather be rational than be right.
Can we take the above as a sign that you are out of arguments for your case?

Well, so be it, then. Been nice talking to you.

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Old 11th July 2007, 03:48 AM   #786
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Speaking of intellectual dishonesty, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes won the prize for this in the 19th century. Although skeptics of homeopathy at that time and even today (!) consider Dr. Holmes' book to be one of the strongest critiques of homeopathy ever written, I will be curious what the seemingly smart and seemingly hyper-vigilent participants at this site will say about his knowledge of and criticisms about homeopathy.

It is more than a tad ironic that you "defenders of the scientific paradigm" maintain such an unscientific attitude towards homeopathy. This is not a homeopathic dose of chutzpah...it is a very crude dose of it...read for yourself...

Yes, I've read it. Now I notice nobody in this thread actually mentioned Dr. Holmes, you brought him up all by yourself. So maybe you had a point to make? If so, what was it?

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Oliver Wendell Holmes and His Attack on Homeopathy

The most famous anti-homeopathy book written in the 19th century was by Oliver Wendell Holmes, MD (1809-1894). Called Homoeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions, this book was written just six years after Dr. Holmes graduated from medical school. Before Holmes went to medical school, he authored a famous poem in 1830 called Old Ironside as well as two articles in 1832 and 1833 entitled Autocrat at the Breakfast Table (published in The Atlantic Monthly), which gave him a national reputation as a leading American writer and scholar.

Although Holmes had become a professor at Harvard Medical School and although he was a respected poet and author, he actually had very little direct experience practicing medicine before he wrote this attack on homeopathy. Dr. Holmes’ essay on homeopathy gained a lot of attention, and this book today is commonly referred to as a “strong” critique of homeopathy. However, this book should actually be a significant embarrassment to its author and to those who are seriously antagonistic to homeopathy because it is so full of obvious errors of fact, which authors today still quote as though this book was factual.

In that case, would you mind citing some of these "obvious errors of fact", and showing the evidence that they are in fact errors?

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
It is amazing to note, first, that Dr. Holmes wrote that the one physician who typifies the good American medical thinking and practice of that time was Benjamin Rush, MD (1745-1813), a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the surgeon general of the Continental Army. Dr. Rush was one of the leading advocates of “heroic medicine,” that is, the frequent and aggressive use of including bloodletting, intestinal purging (with mercury), vomiting (with the caustic agent tartar emetic), and blistering of the skin.

Dr. Rush recommended bloodletting for virtually every patient, and he considered it quackery if a physician did not bloodlet his patients. He even once boasted that he had drawn enough blood to float a 74-gun man-of-war ship (Transactions, 1882).

Rush was also an advocate of forced psychiatric treatment, which in part explains why his portrait is on the emblem of the American Psychiatric Association. One of Rush's favorite methods of treatment was to tie a patient to a wooden board and rapidly spin it until significant amounts of blood flowed to the head. He placed his own son in one of his insane asylum hospitals for 27 years until he died. Rush also believed that being black was a hereditary illness which he referred to as “negroidism.”

Now, I didn't remember any praise of Dr. Rush in Dr. Holmes' essay, or even any mention of him. So I called up the online text of the essay and did a search. The only two instances of the letter-group "rush" occur in the words "crushing" and "crushed". Perhaps I've missed it - I believe there is a fuller version of Dr. Holmes' text available somewhere - surely our James wouldn't be criticising a passage that doesn't actually appear in that essay, while critiquing that essay, would he? I mean, that would be intellectually dishonest.

So where is this praise of Dr. Rush, which is the first thing you seem to come up with when dealing with the many "obvious errors of fact" you say are contained in Holmes' essay? I'd like to know what you're actually referring to, because I can't find it.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
In addition to Dr. Holmes’ glorification of Dr. Rush’s heroic medicine, Holmes had the audacity to say that homeopathic medicine is “barbaric” because it uses various snake venoms (p. x). This statement is more than a tad ironic when you consider that one of Dr. Holmes’ most famous quotes was his own critique of conventional medical drugs when he said, “I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica (materials of medicine), as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind,--and all the worse for the fishes” (Holmes, 1860).

Once again, I've searched the online text of the essay, and I can't find the words "barbaric", or "snake", or "venom". Again, I accept that James may be citing a fuller text than the one I'm searching, however we really need to know what Dr. Holmes actually said, and if the criticised passages aren't in the most easily accessible version of the text, and James won't quote them, then we're in some difficulty.

Dr. Holmes' last comment quoted by James is remarkably perceptive for its time and shows just what a clear thinker he actually was. He recognised that the therapeutic armoury of his time was largely completely useless and to a large extent toxic. However, when modern homoeopaths quote this to imply that modern pharmaceuticals are also useless and toxic, it is they who are being intellectually dishonest.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Dr. Holmes’ primary attack was on the extremely small doses that are used in homeopathic medicine.

Excuse me, but here you go again, James. Trying to stop you doing this is like trying to stop a child biting its nails! Please cease this reference to "extremely small doses" in relation to homoeopathy. We know and you know that there is no "extremely small dose" of anything at all in the vast bulk of homoeopathic preparations, and in none of those classed as the most "potent". Continually implying that there is indeed a minute amount of substance there (apart from the carrier material) could easily be seen a intellectual dishonesty.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
However, Dr. Holmes had seemingly never read a single book on homeopathy or had any meaningful dialogue with a homeopath because he committed a classic error of calculation. When a homeopathic pharmacy makes a medicine, they take one part of the original substance and dilute it in nine or 99 parts water (considered a 1:10 or 1:100 dilution); the glass bottle is then vigorously shaken approximately 40 times, and then, the medicinal solution is again diluted 1:10 or 1:100. Ultimately, to make a homeopathic medicine to the 30X or 30C (“X” is a Roman numeral for 10, and “C” means 100; the letter next to the number refers to the type of dilution), the total amount of water needed is 30 test tubes of water (considerably less than a simple gallon of water).

However, Dr. Holmes got his calculations confused, and he incorrectly assumed that the homeopathic manufacturer had to have 10 times or 100 times more water than in the previous dilution. Dr. Holmes estimated that the 9th dilution would require ten billion gallons of water and the 17th dilution required a quantity equal to 10,000 Adriatic seas. Dr. Holmes could have easily corrected his error if he had simply gone into one homeopathic pharmacy or had a simple short conversation with a homeopath.

Others have dealt with this. Dr. Holmes never at any point stated or implied that anyone needed to use actual massive quantities of water to manufacture homoeopathic remedies. Indeed, it is such an obvious illustrative figure of speech that I fear only someone completely lost in intellectual dishonesty would even contemplate taking it literally. How could Dr. Holmes possibly have imagined any homoeopathic manufacturer literally utilising "10,000 Adriatic seas" to make every batch of a 17C remedy? It's ludicrous.

Dr. Holmes was perfectly clear that he was imagining, for illustrative purposes, the amount of water which would be diluting the mother tincture if a 17C preparation were to be made as a single step. Anyone reading the article would easily realise this - because he states so explicitly. The relevant passage has already been quoted above.

To take a figurative illustration out of context and assert that it was meant literally, and then to attack it on that basis, is indeed the height of intellectual dishonesty. Is this the only example of the many alleged "errors of fact" in the essay? We can see easily that this is no error of fact. So we're still waiting. Where are those errors?

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Sadly and strangely, Dr. Holmes and other conventional doctors of that age prided themselves on never talking with a homeopath.

Evidence that Dr. Holmes stated that he never talked with a homoeopath? Please?

And while we're on the subject, evidence please that Holmes "never read a single book on homeopathy or had any meaningful dialogue with a homeopath", as stated in the preceding quote. I would mention that Holmes actually quotes quite liberally from Hahnemann's work, which would be quite difficult to do if he'd never read it.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
What is even more ironic is that Dr. Holmes arranged for the reprinting of this article in various books from 1842 to 1891 without changing a single word, despite this and numerous other errors of fact in his work.

Ah yes, these numerous errors of fact. Could we please have even one of these quoted, then shown to be in error?

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Dr. Holmes explained in his book that the growth of homeopathy was primarily because conventional physicians tended to over-medicate their patients, even though Holmes later wrote that the public itself “insists on being poisoned” (Holmes, 1860, 186).

And what's the problem with these statements? They're not mutually exclusive, "the public" isn't a homogeneous mass. Both can be true and I think both probably are true.

Holmes recognised that most ailments get better on their own. He also recognised that people tend to demand medication even for self-limiting conditions. And he recognised that, by providing no medication in the guise of therapy, homoeoapathy often dealt with those situations better than the conventional mdicine of his time. People "insist on being poisoned" (that is, treated). Homoeopathic treatment is less poisonous than 19th century conventional medicine. Therefore we can see why homoeopathy might become quite successful.

Perfectly sensible and rational position. But by selective quoting and making snide suggestions, James manages to imply some conflict. Intellectually dishonest, or what?

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Dr. Holmes also attempted to “prove” that homeopathic medicines do not work by quoting a “scientific study.” To do this, Holmes referenced a “study” by a Dr. Gabriel Andral, professor of medicine in the School of Paris. Holmes referred to Andral “a man of great kindness of character…of unquestioned integrity.” Holmes reported on Andral’s experiment on 130-140 patients using homeopathic medicines, and Holmes quoted Andral saying, “not one of them did it have the slightest influence” (Holmes, 1842, 80).

Although Dr. Holmes and others have asserted that Andral’s experiment provided strong evidence for disproving homeopathy, it must be noted that later in his life, Andral himself acknowledged the serious problems in his study. Although Andral claimed to have used Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura as his guide, he neglected to mention at the time that the book was in German and that he could not read German. One other book by Hahnemann was translated into French at the time of this study, but Andral did not prescribe any of the 22 homeopathic medicines in this book for any patients in his study. Even Andral’s assistant for this study acknowledged that Andral did not know how to select homeopathic medicines for patients and that he “excuses his ignorance by saying it was unavoidable” (Dean, 2004, 112).

Additional evidence of Andral’s complete ignorance of homeopathy was revealed in a review of each of his prescriptions and his use of dosages. He never prescribed any homeopathic medicines for any patient’s unique syndrome of symptoms. Instead, he selected a single symptom of his own idiosyncratic choosing and then guessed at the medicine for it. For instance, his prescriptions of Arnica for one woman with painful menstruation and for one man with tuberculosis were guesses that were not based on any homeopathic textbook. Further, 75% of the patients were given just one dose of one remedy without any follow-up remedy (Irvine, 1844). If patients were not immediately cured by this one dose, he considered homeopathy a failure and then referred the patient for conventional medical treatment.

Andral later asserted that he had never formally granted anyone permission to publish his report on homeopathy, and further, by 1852 he had changed his mind about homeopathy and asserted that it deserved the closest examination by every physician (Dean, 2004, 112).

OK, what did Dr. Holmes actually say about Dr. Andral's work? The first passage is this one.

Quote:
I will take, for instance, the statements of Andral (and I am not referring to his well-known public experiments in his hospital) as to the result of his own trials. This distinguished physician is Professor of Medicine in the School of Paris, and one of the most widely known and valued authors upon practical and theoretical subjects the profession can claim in any country. He is a man of great kindness of character, a most liberal eclectic by nature and habit, of unquestioned integrity, and is called, in the leading article of the fast number of the "Homeopathic Examiner," "an eminent and very enlightened allopathist." Assisted by a number of other persons in good health, he experimented on the effects of cinchona, aconite, sulphur, arnica, and the other most highly extolled remedies. His experiments lasted a year, and he stated publicly to the Academy of Medicine that they never produced the slightest appearance of the symptoms attributed to them. The results of a man like this, so extensively known as one of the most philosophical and candid, as well as brilliant of instructors, and whose admirable abilities and signal liberality are generally conceded, ought to be of great weight in deciding the question.

Now this is explicitly not talking about the work that James is criticising, but about attempts to replicate "proving" symptoms. If there is any valid criticism of this work, James has failed to point it out.

However, Dr. Holmes does indeed reference Andral's trials on actual patients, later in the essay. What does he say there? Let's have a look.

Quote:
M. Andral, the "eminent and very enlightened allopathist" of the "Homoeopathic Examiner," made the following statement in March, 1835, to the Academy of Medicine: "I have submitted this doctrine to experiment; I can reckon at this time from one hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty cases, recorded with perfect fairness, in a great hospital, under the eye of numerous witnesses; to avoid every objection I obtained my remedies of M. Guibourt, who keeps a Homoeopathic pharmacy, and whose strict exactness is well known; the regimen has been scrupulously observed, and I obtained from the sisters attached to the hospital a special regimen, such as Hahnemann orders. I was told, however, some months since, that I had not been faithful to all the rules of the doctrine. I therefore took the trouble to begin again; I have studied the practice of the Parisian Homoeopathists, as I had studied their books, and I became convinced that they treated their patients as I had treated mine, and I affirm that I have been as rigorously exact in the treatment as any other person."

And he expressly asserts the entire nullity of the influence of all the Homoeopathic remedies tried by him in modifying, so far as he could observe, the progress or termination of diseases. It deserves notice that he experimented with the most boasted substances -- cinchona, aconite, mercury, bryonia, belladonna. Aconite, for instance, he says he administered in more than forty cases of that collection of feverish symptoms in which it exerts so much power, according to Hahnemann, and in not one of them did it have the slightest influence, the pulse and heat remaining as before.

These statements look pretty honest, and would seem hard to be explained away, but it is calmly said that he "did not know enough of the method to select the remedies with any tolerable precision." [Homoeopathic Examiner, vol. i. p. 22. "Nothing is left to the caprice of the physician. ('In a word, instead of being dependent upon blind chance, that there is an infallible law, guided by which the physician must select the proper remedies.')" Ibid., in a notice of Menzel's paper.]
Who are they that practice Homoeopathy, and say this of a man with the Materia, Medica of Hahnemann lying before him? Who are they that send these same globules, on which he experimented, accompanied by a little book, into families, whose members are thought competent to employ them, when they deny any such capacity to a man whose life has been passed at the bedside of patients, the most prominent teacher in the first Medical Faculty in the world, the consulting physician of the King of France, and one of the most renowned practical writers, not merely of his nation, but of his age? I leave the quibbles by which such persons would try to creep out from under the crushing weight of these conclusions to the unfortunates who suppose that a reply is equivalent to an answer.

Dearie, dearie me. Do we see here that Dr. Holmes was perfectly aware of the criticisms that had been levelled at Dr. Andral, had taken them on board already, and addressed them in his essay? I believe we do, indeed.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Despite these facts, Dr. Holmes never changed a word of his essay on homeopathy to avoid misinformation.

What would you like him to have changed, James? He reported that Dr. Andral's work had been criticised, he summarised the grounds of the criticism, then he gave his reasons for believing the criticism was unfounded.

We can see from this that attacks on critics of homoeopathy are no new thing, and the need to address these attacks is also no new thing. Holmes observed quite clearly the intellectually dishonest nature of these attacks (the bolded passages in the last paragraph quoted), in that on the one hand homoeopaths were content to supply remedies to the entirely medically naive, with a little book of instructions, and assure them that they could use these effectively, but on the other hand an experienced doctor, who is labouring to practise just as Hahnemann practised, cannot possibly know enough to succeed. Intellectual dishonesty, indeed.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
When you consider that this book by Dr. Holmes was considered the best critique of homeopathy written in the 19th century, one must rightfully acknowledge that serious or sophisticated criticism of homeopathy at this time was neither rational nor accurate.

Where are those inaccuracies, again? You still haven't quoted one single statement of Holmes' that you have shown to be inaccurate.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
In 1861, Dr. Holmes finally confessed that homeopathy “has taught us a lesson of the healing faculty of Nature which was needed, and for which many of us have made proper acknowledgements” (Holmes, 1891, x, xiii-xiv). However, he still never instructed his publisher to change a word of his previous writings on homeopathy.

Finally "confessed"? What did Holmes actually say? I can't find the exact quote, but I know he did say this or something like it. But it wasn't a "confession", and it certainly wasn't a declaration that homoeopathy has any efficacy. On the contrary, it was an observation that most patients recover even with no treatment. If you have a cold, a fever, a chill, a headache or whatever, you'll get better! You don't need anyone to bleed and purge you, and in fact bleeding and purging are likely to make you worse. (Indeed, you don't even need to take aspirin or paracetamol, you're NOT GOING TO DIE.) Holmes recognised that homoeopathy was an elaborate method of doing nothing, and that doing nothing was not only a perfectly reasonable way to treat most illness, it was in fact demonstrably better than many of the practices prevalent in his time. Hence his remarks about sinking the materia medica to the bottom of the sea.

Homoeopathy in fact provided the first "placebo control" of the medicine of its time, and the conventional medical practices did not come out well from this comparison. Holmes recognised this, and even credited homoeopathy with providing the evidence that current practice was worse than doing nothing, which was the whole spur to the medical advancements we've benefitted from over the past 150 years or so.

However, we see yet more intellectual dishonesty on the part of James. Holmes' observed that the conventional medicine of his time was at best useless and at worst actively harmful and occasionally lethal. He observed that doing nothing at all was better for the patient. He recognises that homoeopathy is equivalent to doing nothing at all, and credits it with a role in demonstrating this truism. What he never stated nor believed was that homoeopathy was anything other than doing nothing at all, and to take a selective quote out of context to imply that in his later years he believed homoeopathy to be efficacious is - oh dear, not again - intellectually dishonest.

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Old 11th July 2007, 04:11 AM   #787
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
It is sweet to know that I am missed...

I couldn't help but notice that Linda posted 3 links to replicated studies on the homeopathic treatment of influenza, and yet, no one here has the courage to acknowledge that these studies have confirmed the efficacy of a homeopathic medicine (Oscillococcinum) in the treatment of the flu. While I appreciated Linda's references, I couldn't help but notice that she provided NO positive words about the body of replicated studies (from 3 independent groups of researchers).
How could I? It would be profoundly stupid of me to base a whole new field of science on 2 studies of replication (against a background of hundreds of attempts), considering that the kinds of results that were obtained can occur due to chance and bias, and were trivial in importance. As I said before, even if I concede that the studies were well-designed, well-performed, and well-analyzed, the results are insufficient to speak towards the validity of the idea of homeopathy.

Quote:
This is a common pattern here: You nitpick any (!) possible and even extremely minor problem with a clinical trial and make it seem that ANY minor problem is worthy enough to throw out the entire trial's information. Everyone here does all they can to NEVER acknowledge anything potentially positive about a trial testing homeopathy, unless it had a negative outcome.
I apply the same criteria to all trials, regardless of whether it is a trial of homeopathy or conventional medicine.

Quote:
Someone referred to Orac's critique of the CHEST study, and yet, this critique was so weak that it was surprising that CHEST chose to publish his "letter to the editor." However, because the authors replied to him (and blew his weak critique out of the water), I was pleased to see this in print. And yet, no one here acknowledged the incredible weakness of Orac's analysis.
You are speaking about two different things. The letter to the editor that CHEST published was to point out the details of the silliness of the idea behind homeopathy - not all physicians are familiar with this. And he was hardly pwned. All they did was bring out the same old invalid arguments you have presented here - that homeopathy is based on many observations, that you can't ignore the results of a randomized trial (demonstrating, like you, a misunderstanding of just what can be concluded from the results of a clincial trial), and (my personal favourite) maybe water doesn't have memory that lasts more than femtoseconds, but it doesn't matter because it was water and alcohol.

The critique of the details of the study itself was on Orac's blog. I did not see a response from the authors there (although admittedly I didn't wade through all the posts, as a fight broke out over what to do about homeopathy).

Quote:
You cannot have it both ways: you cannot be intellectually honest by applying your analysis to critique homeopathy unless you apply a similar level of analysis to the critique of the critique.
I did. I applied a similar level of analysis and the critique holds up as valid.

Quote:
I just want some intellectual honesty...and sadly, I'm not getting it at this site.
I think you just like to say that, regardless of whether or not you think it's true.

Linda
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Old 11th July 2007, 04:18 AM   #788
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
no one here has the courage to acknowledge....
she provided NO positive words....

this critique was so weak....
blew his weak critique out of the water....
no one here acknowledged the incredible weakness of Orac's (David Colquhoun, wasn't it, Professor of Pharmacology that he is, can't even get the identity of the critics right even) analysis....

....

I just want some intellectual honesty...and sadly, I'm not getting it at this site.

You're not getting it anywhere you go, because you trail intellectual dishonesty with you wherever you go. Do you refer to this fault so often because you have such a perfect example of it staring back at you every morning when you shave?

I've noticed that James (or Dana, if he is he) has a nice way with words. He makes statements and criticisms that sound reasonable, even plausible, and his command of English is light years ahead of almost any other homoeopath we've seen here. So he may give a good impression.

However, when we examine these apparently reasonable and plausible statements we find things that simply aren't so. We find an entirely unjustified critique of O. W. Holmes' essay, founded on selective quoting, quotes that don't seem to be there at all, and false inference. We find continual references to minute doses of substances, and hormesis, without acknowledging that these points have nothing at all to do with homoeoapthy. And we find bald statements that criticisms of homoeoapthy are in error or have been disproved, when that is simply not the case.

In fact, we see just another example of "argument by blatant assertion" that we see so often from homoeopaths. It's just dressed up nicer than is usual, with a spice of unwarranted intellectual superiority.

Toom tabard again, methinks.

Rolfe.
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Old 11th July 2007, 05:42 AM   #789
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Rolfe - 1,000,000
Homeopaths - 0

Unfortunately, according to their logic that probably means they've won.
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Old 11th July 2007, 08:12 AM   #790
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Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
Rolfe - 1,000,000
Homeopaths - 0
QFT.
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Old 11th July 2007, 08:14 AM   #791
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
Speaking of intellectual dishonesty ... {snip}

In 1861, Dr. Holmes finally confessed that homeopathy “has taught us a lesson of the healing faculty of Nature which was needed, and for which many of us have made proper acknowledgements” (Holmes, 1891, x, xiii-xiv). ...
I wonder what Holmes' quote looks like in context ...

Last edited by JJM; 11th July 2007 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 11th July 2007, 08:38 AM   #792
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Originally Posted by JJM View Post
I wonder what Holmes' quote looks like in context ...
Here you go:

"Homoeopathy is now merely a name, an unproved theory, and a box of
pellets pretending to be specifics, which, as all of us know, fail
ignominiously in those cases where we would thankfully sacrifice all
our prejudices and give the world to have them true to their
promises.

Homoeopathy has not died out so rapidly as Tractoration. Perhaps it
was well that it should not, for it has taught us a lesson of the
healing faculty of Nature which was needed, and for which many of us
have made proper acknowledgments. But it probably does more harm
than good to medical science at the present time, by keeping up the
delusion of treating everything by specifics..."

Ever heard of quote mining, Mr. Gully/Ullman?

For more, go to http://www.fullbooks.com/The-Complet...Wendell41.html
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Old 11th July 2007, 01:26 PM   #793
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This looks like a highly unfair battle to me, but what the heck...

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
My subject was "intellectual dishonesty," and Holmes had in the 19th century, and this list is full of it today.

But heck, prove me wrong. Show some honesty. Acknowledge results from high quality clinical and basic science research whether it has a positive or negative outcome for homeopathy. Acknowledge that many principles of homeopathy have real merit. Acknowledge the several thousand studies by non-homeopaths test hormesis and other extremely low dose phenemona (at doses that are EXTREMELY commonly sold in health food stores and pharmacies today).
Honesty ? Please at least understand that hormesis has nothing to do with homeopathy... And let's discuss the misuse homeopathy proponents make of materials science and nanotechnology...

Quote:
And stop the total BS about the "high price" of homeopathic medicines (the vast majority are under $10!) or the "huge profits" that the homeopathic drug companies make (the total sales--not just profit--of the individual companies are LESS than the advertising budget of a single popular conventional drug).
I checked homeopathic remedies for fun at my local pharmacy... Most of them cost more than a bottle of advil...

Quote:
In other words, GET REAL (this may be tough for some of you).
... ... The "if you don't see this you're just stupid" technique ? Please...

the Kemist
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Old 11th July 2007, 05:59 PM   #794
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Yes, I've read it. Now I notice nobody in this thread actually mentioned Dr. Holmes, you brought him up all by yourself. So maybe you had a point to make? If so, what was it?

I thought that the point was obvious: people who do not understand the past are condemned to repeat it...as this list has shown...

I do not have the time to respond to all of your questions and responses. You obviously have a lot more time on your hands than I do.

Quote:

Now, I didn't remember any praise of Dr. Rush in Dr. Holmes' essay, or even any mention of him. So I called up the online text of the essay and did a search. The only two instances of the letter-group "rush" occur in the words "crushing" and "crushed". Perhaps I've missed it - I believe there is a fuller version of Dr. Holmes' text available somewhere - surely our James wouldn't be criticising a passage that doesn't actually appear in that essay, while critiquing that essay, would he? I mean, that would be intellectually dishonest..

This is an easy one: This reference is on page 192 of Holmes' most famous book...his collection of essays entitled MEDICAL ESSAYS.


Quote:

Once again, I've searched the online text of the essay, and I can't find the words "barbaric", or "snake", or "venom". Again, I accept that James may be citing a fuller text than the one I'm searching, however we really need to know what Dr. Holmes actually said, and if the criticised passages aren't in the most easily accessible version of the text, and James won't quote them, then we're in some difficulty..

On page x from MEDICAL ESSAYS...

Quote:
Others have dealt with this. Dr. Holmes never at any point stated or implied that anyone needed to use actual massive quantities of water to manufacture homoeopathic remedies. Indeed, it is such an obvious illustrative figure of speech that I fear only someone completely lost in intellectual dishonesty would even contemplate taking it literally. How could Dr. Holmes possibly have imagined any homoeopathic manufacturer literally utilising "10,000 Adriatic seas" to make every batch of a 17C remedy? It's ludicrous.

Holmes' example was intellectually dishonest because it is a false metaphor. One cannot say that the atomic bomb is a placebo just because it is impossible for such small things as atoms creating big explosions...or others might note that a single atom cannot exist because the material in the atom is so much smaller than the space inbetween its component parts.


Quote:
Evidence that Dr. Holmes stated that he never talked with a homoeopath? Please?

The AMA Code of Ethics explicitly disallow consultations with homeopaths from the 1860s to the turn of the century, and this was one of the very few ethical codes that was ever enforces. Read some medical history books to learn about the "Consultation Clause."


Quote:
What would you like him to have changed, James? He reported that Dr. Andral's work had been criticised, he summarised the grounds of the criticism, then he gave his reasons for believing the criticism was unfounded.

And yet, once Andral himself acknowledged the SERIOUS problems with his "research," Holmes chose to not change a single word from his essays, even when the collection of his essays was published in 1891.

This is a classic example of intellectual dishonesty. Case book, indeed.

I would hope that scientifically-minded people, including many people on this list who proclaim to be such, would join me in expressing concerns about Holmes and his ilk.


Quote:
Homoeopathy in fact provided the first "placebo control" of the medicine of its time, and the conventional medical practices did not come out well from this comparison. Holmes recognised this, and even credited homoeopathy with providing the evidence that current practice was worse than doing nothing, which was the whole spur to the medical advancements we've benefitted from over the past 150 years or so.

I'm glad that you acknowledged this.


Quote:
I've noticed that James (or Dana, if he is he) has a nice way with words. He makes statements and criticisms that sound reasonable, even plausible, and his command of English is light years ahead of almost any other homoeopath we've seen here. So he may give a good impression.

Thanx, Rolfe. I appreciate it when you show your gentlemanly side. You are one of the few that doesn't name-call or belittle. I predict that one day you will be a leading advocate of homeopathy and nanopharmacology (I hope that your fellow skeptics here don't belittle you before of this remark).
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Old 11th July 2007, 06:01 PM   #795
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To clarify, Holmes' worship for Benjamin Rush was evidenced in Holmes' essay "Currents and Counter-Currents" written in 1860.
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Old 11th July 2007, 06:11 PM   #796
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
How could I? It would be profoundly stupid of me to base a whole new field of science on 2 studies of replication (against a background of hundreds of attempts), considering that the kinds of results that were obtained can occur due to chance and bias, and were trivial in importance. As I said before, even if I concede that the studies were well-designed, well-performed, and well-analyzed, the results are insufficient to speak towards the validity of the idea of homeopathy.
I would never expect you or anyone to say that a single study or a replicated study would "prove" entire system of homeopathy, just as I wouldn't expect you to say that it would disprove the entire system of homeopathy.

However, I would expect scientifically-minded people to say that Oscillococcinum IS effective in the treatment of influenza and inflenza-like syndromes because three large, independently conducted double-blind studies have shown this to be true.

It is simply interesting that no one on this list has enough of a backbone to make this statement. Sadly, it is almost as though you are afraid of each other and almost as though you are all vying to seem to be more anti-homeopathic than the other.


Originally Posted by fls View Post
The critique of the details of the study itself was on Orac's blog. I did not see a response from the authors there (although admittedly I didn't wade through all the posts, as a fight broke out over what to do about homeopathy).
Get a chance to read it. I don't have the URL right now, but I still assert that this response blows Orac out of the water, especially Orac is simply the theoretician, while Frass and his colleagues are the scientists and researchers. Heck, there are lots of things in nature that seem illogical but are real.
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Old 11th July 2007, 09:46 PM   #797
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Linda (fls), don't waste any time looking for a rebuttal at Orac's blog- it is not there. You may be surprised to learn this; but Ully/Gullman is confused. He refers to a letter to the editor by David Calquhoun that was published in Chest, followed by a moronic response from the author.

http://www.dcscience.net/improbable.html#chest
Quote:
Using potassium dichromate to treat patients in intensive care (rather than to clean the glassware)?
No, that isn't a joke. The respectable journal, Chest, official journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, published an article that purported to show that homeopathic potassium dichromate (i.e. water) was a useful way to treat patients in intensive care. {snip}

The editor of Chest ... did publish a response from me: Treating Critically Ill Patients With Sugar Pills, Chest, 131 , 645, 2007 [Get pdf ].
{snip} The Frass paper has now received some close attention on the Respectful Insolence blog. Someone posting under the name 'getzal' has done a nice analysis which shows that the control group must have contained patients who were were more seriously ill than the homeopathically-treated group.
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Old 11th July 2007, 11:20 PM   #798
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
...However, I would expect scientifically-minded people to say that Oscillococcinum IS effective in the treatment of influenza and inflenza-like syndromes because three large, independently conducted double-blind studies have shown this to be true.
No they don't. If you read earlier in this thread, this has been mentioned multiple times. Actually, to be precise you have never given the title, date, and journal of any of those studies. Linda dug them out here:
http://forums.randi.org/showthread.p...um#post2623708 ... and mentions that
Originally Posted by fls View Post
No. The results are barely statistically significant, and there are aspects which are suspicious - they measure a lot of stuff which makes it easier to select (post hoc) those combinations which happen to show the most difference. If correction for multiple comparisons was made to the signficance level, none of the results would be significant. Then when you take into consideration that this is the best they have to show for all of homeopathy, it's underwhelming to say the least.

Linda
Also, if I plug the search term "Oscillococcinum" into www.pubmed.gov I get a total of six studies. All of them reviews, and none of them outright say Oscillococcinum is effective for homeopathy.

Here they are with their conclusions:
Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes concludes " Current evidence does not support a preventative effect of Oscillococcinum-like homeopathic medicines in influenza and influenza-like syndromes."

Preventing influenza: an overview of systematic reviews.... notes that "The popularity of homoeopathic Oscillococcinum, especially in France, is not supported by current evidence."

Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes...concludes "Though promising, the data are not strong enough to make a general recommendation to use Oscillococcinum for first-line treatment of influenza and influenza-like syndrome." (hey, that is not very overwhelming... especially when it says it reduced symptoms a total of .28 days, um... that is just a few hours!).

Respiratory and allergic diseases: from upper respiratory tract infections to asthma... was long involved and included this rather noncommittal note "The one study on Elderberry's use for the flu was encouraging, and the data on the homeopathic remedy Oscillococcinum interesting, but more studies should be performed. "

Systematic reviews of complementary therapies - an annotated bibliography. Part 3: homeopathy.... where again we have these unexcited notes that "The majority of available trials seem to report positive results but the evidence is not convincing. For isopathic nosodes for allergic conditions, oscillococcinum for influenza-like syndromes and galphimia for pollinosis the evidence is promising while in other areas reviewed the results are equivocal."

Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes.... which states "Oscillococcinum probably reduces the duration of illness in patients presenting with influenza symptoms. Though promising, the data are not strong enough to make a general recommendation to use Oscillococcinum for first-line treatment of influenza and influenza-like syndrome. Further research is warranted but required sample sizes are large. Current evidence does not support a preventative effect of homeopathy in influenza and influenza-like syndromes."

Now where were those three large studies that show positive results for Oscillococcinum? Because they seem to be missing from the www.pubmed.gov index.

Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
...Get a chance to read it. I don't have the URL right now, but I still assert that this response blows Orac out of the water, especially Orac is simply the theoretician, while Frass and his colleagues are the scientists and researchers. Heck, there are lots of things in nature that seem illogical but are real.
Then get it... because from http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20...ringeicu_1.php we read that the study was very small:
Quote:
First, there were only 25 patients in each group, which is a pretty small number for anything other than a pilot study. You have to remember that, when studies are small, spurious results are more likely to occur.
Then...
Quote:
A more interesting difference, however, and potentially more likely to influence the results of the study comes when you look at the number of patients who were on home oxygen before being hospitalized and developing respiratory failure. In the control group, 9/25 patients were on chronic home oxygen, whereas in the potassium dichromate group, only 5/25 were on home oxygen.
Did you not notice that the two groups were not even equivalent?
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Old 11th July 2007, 11:51 PM   #799
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
In addition to Dr. Holmes’ glorification of Dr. Rush’s heroic medicine, Holmes had the audacity to say that homeopathic medicine is “barbaric” because it uses various snake venoms (p. x). This statement is more than a tad ironic when you consider that one of Dr. Holmes’ most famous quotes was his own critique of conventional medical drugs when he said, “I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica (materials of medicine), as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind,--and all the worse for the fishes” (Holmes, 1860).
Once again, I've searched the online text of the essay, and I can't find the words "barbaric", or "snake", or "venom". Again, I accept that James may be citing a fuller text than the one I'm searching, however we really need to know what Dr. Holmes actually said, and if the criticised passages aren't in the most easily accessible version of the text, and James won't quote them, then we're in some difficulty.
Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
On page x from MEDICAL ESSAYS...

Well, I've found that one: it's in the 1861 preface to Medical Essays linked to by Michael C above (James, it's not necessary to shout out titles like that). Let's look at it in context:
Quote:
Homoeopathy has not died out so rapidly as Tractoration. Perhaps it
was well that it should not, for it has taught us a lesson of the
healing faculty of Nature which was needed, and for which many of us
have made proper acknowledgments. But it probably does more harm
than good to medical science at the present time, by keeping up the
delusion of treating everything by specifics,--the old barbarous
notion that sick people should feed on poisons [Lachesis, arrow-
poison, obtained from a serpent (Pulte). Crotalus horridus,
rattlesnake's venom (Neidhard). The less dangerous Pediculus capitis
is the favorite remedy of Dr. Mure, the English "Apostle of
Homoeopathy." These are examples of the retrograde current setting
towards barbarism] against which a part of the Discourse at the
beginning of this volume is directed.
I didn't find it yesterday because I looked for the word "barbaric", which doesn't actually appear.
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Old 12th July 2007, 12:32 AM   #800
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Originally Posted by JamesGully View Post
It is amazing to note, first, that Dr. Holmes wrote that the one physician who typifies the good American medical thinking and practice of that time was Benjamin Rush, MD (1745-1813), a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the surgeon general of the Continental Army. Dr. Rush was one of the leading advocates of “heroic medicine,” that is, the frequent and aggressive use of including bloodletting, intestinal purging (with mercury), vomiting (with the caustic agent tartar emetic), and blistering of the skin.

...snip...

In addition to Dr. Holmes’ glorification of Dr. Rush’s heroic medicine...

For what Holmes says about Rush, see this page.

After discussing various historical figures such as Galen, Vesalius, Harvey and Bichat, he says:
Quote:
If we come to our own country, who can fail to recognize that
Benjamin Rush, the most conspicuous of American physicians, was the
intellectual offspring of the movement which produced the Revolution?
"The same hand," says one of his biographers," which subscribed the
declaration of the political independence of these States,
accomplished their emancipation from medical systems formed in
foreign countries, and wholly unsuitable to the state of diseases in
America."

Following this general course of remark, I propose to indicate in a
few words the direction of the main intellectual current of the time,
and to point out more particularly some of the eddies which tend to
keep the science and art of medicine from moving with it, or even to
carry them backwards.
Later, he says:
Quote:
Under these influences transmitted to, or at least shared by, the
medical profession, the old question between "Nature," so called, and
"Art," or professional tradition, has reappeared with new interest.
I say the old question, for Hippocrates stated the case on the side
of "Nature" more than two thousand years ago. Miss Florence
Nightingale,--and if I name her next to the august Father of the
Healing Art, its noblest daughter well deserves that place of honor,
--Miss Florence Nightingale begins her late volume with a paraphrase
of his statement. But from a very early time to this there has
always been a strong party against "Nature." Themison called the
practice of Hippocrates "a meditation upon death." Dr. Rush says:
"It is impossible to calculate the mischief which Hippocrates, has
done, by first marking Nature with his name and afterwards letting
her loose upon sick people. Millions have perished by her hands in
all ages and countries." Sir John Forbes, whose defence of "Nature"
in disease you all know, and to the testimonial in whose honor four
of your Presidents have contributed, has been recently greeted, on
retiring from the profession, with a wish that his retirement had
been twenty years sooner, and the opinion that no man had done so
much to destroy the confidence of the public in the medical
profession.

In this Society we have had the Hippocratic and the Themisonic side
fairly represented. The treatise of one of your early Presidents on
the Mercurial Treatment is familiar to my older listeners. Others
who have held the same office have been noted for the boldness of
their practice, and even for partiality to the use of complex
medication.
And:
Quote:
But there are other special American influences which we are bound to
take cognizance of. If I wished to show a student the difficulties
of getting at truth from medical experience, I would give him the
history of epilepsy to read. If I wished him to understand the
tendencies of the American medical mind, its sanguine enterprise, its
self-confidence, its audacious handling of Nature, its impatience
with her old-fashioned ways of taking time to get a sick man well, I
would make him read the life and writings of Benjamin Rush. Dr. Rush
thought and said that there were twenty times more intellect and a
hundred times more knowledge in the country in 1799 than before the
Revolution. His own mind was in a perpetual state of exaltation
produced by the stirring scenes in which he had taken a part, and the
quickened life of the time in which he lived. It was not the state
to favor sound, calm observation. He was impatient, and Nature is
profoundly imperturbable. We may adjust the beating of our hearts to
her pendulum if we will and can, but we may be very sure that she
will not change the pendulum's rate of going because our hearts are
palpitating. He thought he had mastered yellow-fever. "Thank God,"
he said, "out of one hundred patients whom I have visited or
prescribed for this day, I have lost none." Where was all his legacy
of knowledge when Norfolk was decimated? Where was it when the blue
flies were buzzing over the coffins of the unburied dead piled up in
the cemetery of New Orleans, at the edge of the huge trenches yawning
to receive them?

One such instance will do as well as twenty. Dr. Rush must have been
a charming teacher, as he was an admirable man. He was observing,
rather than a sound observer; eminently observing, curious, even,
about all manner of things. But he could not help feeling as if
Nature had been a good deal shaken by the Declaration of
Independence, and that American art was getting to be rather too much
for her,--especially as illustrated in his own practice. He taught
thousands of American students, he gave a direction to the medical
mind of the country more than any other one man; perhaps he typifies
it better than any other. It has clearly tended to extravagance in
remedies and trust in remedies, as in everything else. How could a
people which has a revolution once in four years, which has contrived
the Bowie-knife and the revolver, which has chewed the juice out of
all the superlatives in the language in Fourth of July orations, and
so used up its epithets in the rhetoric of abuse that it takes two
great quarto dictionaries to supply the demand; which insists in
sending out yachts and horses and boys to out-sail, out-run, out-
fight, and checkmate all the rest of creation; how could such a
people be content with any but "heroic" practice? What wonder that
the stars and stripes wave over doses of ninety grains of sulphate of
quinine, [More strictly, ninety-six grains in two hours. Dunglison's
Practice, 1842, vol. ii. p. 520. Eighty grains in one dose.
Ibid. p. 536. Ninety-six grains of sulphate of quinine are equal
to eight ounces of good bark.--Wood & Bache.] and that the American
eagle screams with delight to see three drachms of calomel given at a
single mouthful?

Add to this the great number of Medical Journals, all useful, we
hope, most of them necessary, we trust, many of them excellently well
conducted, but which must find something to fill their columns, and
so print all the new plans of treatment and new remedies they can get
hold of, as the newspapers, from a similar necessity, print the
shocking catastrophes and terrible murders.
Does this support JamesGully's contention that Holmes regarded Rush as "the one physician who typifies the good American medical thinking and practice of that time", or that Holmes "glorifi[ed] Dr. Rush’s heroic medicine"? He says that Rush perhaps typified the medical mind of the time, but that's not the same thing as saying that he typified good thinking, as the context makes clear.

He also mentions Rush on the following page, where he describes Rush as one of "the great fathers of modern medicine":
Quote:
To you, young men, it belongs to judge all that has gone before you. You come nearer to the great fathers of modern medicine than some of you imagine. Three of my own instructors attended Dr. Rush's Lectures. The illustrious Haller mentions Rush's inaugural thesis in his "Bibliotheca Anatomica;" and this same Haller, brought so close to us, tells us he remembers Ruysch, then an old man, and used to carry letters between him and Boerhaave.
Again, this isn't the same as saying that he typified good practice of Holmes's time.

ETA: found another mention of Rush on the following page:
Quote:
"Medicine is my wife and Science is my mistress," said Dr. Rush. I
do not think that the breach of the seventh commandment can be shown
to have been of advantage to the legitimate owner of his affections.
Read what Dr. Elisha Bartlett says of him as a practitioner, or ask
one of our own honored ex-professors, who studied under him, whether
Dr. Rush had ever learned the meaning of that saying of Lord Bacon,
that man is the minister and interpreter of Nature, or whether he did
not speak habitually of Nature as an intruder in the sick room, from
which his art was to expel her as an incompetent and a meddler.
And another on the next page:
Quote:
A certain amount of natural ability is requisite to make you a good
physician, but by no means that disproportionate development of some
special faculty which goes by the name of genius. A just balance of
the mental powers is a great deal more likely to be useful than any
single talent, even were it the power of observation; in excess. For
a mere observer is liable to be too fond of facts for their own sake,
so that, if he told the real truth, he would confess that he takes
more pleasure in a post-mortem examination which shows him what was
the matter with a patient, than in a case which insists on getting
well and leaving him in the dark as to its nature. Far more likely
to interfere with the sound practical balance of the mind is that
speculative, theoretical tendency which has made so many men noted in
their day, whose fame has passed away with their dissolving theories.
Read Dr. Bartlett's comparison of the famous Benjamin Rush with his
modest fellow-townsman Dr. William Currie, and see the dangers into
which a passion for grandiose generalizations betrayed a man of many
admirable qualities.
__________________
"You got to use your brain." - McKinley Morganfield

"The poor mystic homeopaths feel like petted house-cats thrown at high flood on the breaking ice." - Leon Trotsky

Last edited by Mojo; 12th July 2007 at 02:30 AM.
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